Alanis Morissette has been filming a documentary for HBO Max called Jagged. During the documentary, she talks about rising to fame as a teenager in the music industry, before the days of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. The documentary isn’t out yet, but journalists from The Washington Post have had an early viewing of the documentary. They’ve reported that in the documentary, Alanis Morissette shares that at 15 years old, sexual advances were common and that she was allegedly raped by multiple men. She doesn’t name names. It comes up about 3/4 of the way through the documentary and while it isn’t the focus, it is the first time Alanis Morisette has talked about her personal experiences with abuse. Previously, she’s made it known that she feels sexual abuse for young women in the music industry is more common than it is in film, something that statistics back up. One survey found that 67% of female musicians report having been the victim of sexual harassment.
Often, women are seen as speaking up about abuse years after it happens. The question then becomes “Why do women wait?”. This is asked with a tone to imply that they’ve waited so long because they made it up or because they are opportunists after…. something. It isn’t always clear what the victim would get out of making public accusations, but the implication has been enough to raise eyebrows and put doubt on an accuser. They waited, and that seems suspicious to some. Alanis Morissette addressed this question, saying that it wasn’t a “post #metoo revelation” or something else. She said that she went through years of therapy before she was able to recognize that at 15 years old, she’d been a victim of older men, but that the therapy she’d underwent for this wasn’t a recent experience. She didn’t wait to come forward in this documentary.
“You know a lot of people say ‘why did that woman wait 30 years? And I’m like f— off. They don’t wait 30 years. No one was listening or their livelihood was threatened or their family was threatened,” said Alanis Morissette. “The whole ‘why do women wait’ thing?” she adds. “Women don’t wait. Our culture doesn’t listen.”
The interviews for the documentary were something that Alanis Morissette participated in, but it appears she no longer supports the movie. According to The Washington Post, the documentary is a mostly positive and supportive look at the singer and actress’s career. Despite this, Alanis Morissette is not showing up to the documentary’s premiere or helping promote it. The paper attempted to speak with her representative as well as executives at HBO Max, but interview requests were ignored, meaning that no one wants to answer why it is that she no longer supports the documentary. It isn’t known if she objects to what is shown of the interview where she discusses the alleged statutory rapes or whether there is something else specific that she objects to.
Often, musicians are given a lot of control over their documentaries. The movies are meant to be true-life and intimate looks at the stars but are often brand controlled. In this case, the filmmaker involved in Jagged with Alanis Morissette is more well-known for telling their own specific story. The same was true of a documentary made for Serena and Venus Williams, who were active participants in their own documentary but didn’t appear at the premiere. It’s been said that they were unhappy with how their father was portrayed in the film.
While no one yet knows why Alanis Morissette isn’t attending the documentary’s premiere, it’s still early. She may make her reasons known later. Meanwhile, Jagged itself raises a lot of questions about women’s experiences in the music industry. Britney Spears is currently fighting to get out of a 13-year conservatorship. Ryan Adams has been accused of offering women help in their careers and then turning that into sexual advances. The exploitation of young women in the music industry seems to be something that we’re still only starting to hear about.